for tomorrow

NMMU News

22/06/2015

TODAY Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University will take a proverbial leap into the future through the benefits of interdisciplinary research as it explores the mysteries of yesteryear.

The launch of its Centre for African Palaeoscience at 4pm today (Monday, 22 June) marks a significant step towards understanding evolution via the university’s interdisciplinary approach towards research - in this particular case, the lifestyle and interaction of mankind up to two million years ago.

NMMU’s expanding team of researchers across several disciplines is ideally located to examine the biota of the southern and southeastern coasts of South Africa, which is being increasingly recognised as home to the earliest evidence of the emergence of modern humans.

Leading palaeoscientist Prof Curtis Marean will share this at today’s launch which is open to the public.

Prof Marean holds the belief that humans have the unique tendency to cooperate with other unrelated humans and form societies and “do amazing things”.

“How this proclivity evolved is a particularly challenging question since it works against standard biological models of natural selection. It’s this, and much more, that we wish to research,” says Prof Marean of the exciting research that the new Centre will tackle.

Prof Marean argues that, for the first time, humans shifted their diet to predictable resources found along the southern and southeastern coastline and began to defend these resources from others.

“To test such hypotheses demands research that cross the social and biological and geological sciences – hence the need for formal cross-disciplinary research centres like this one,” he says.

The Centre will build on the rich legacy of local and international research collaborations, to provide the interdisciplinary insights into what is probably “one of the most important evolutionary theatres globally”.

To book your free seat to the event in the Council Chambers, NMMU South Campus email ryan.farrant@nmmu.ac.za

 

Prof Curtis Marean